NZ Royal Gala Galaxy high colour apple on branch in orchard

The New Zealand government has announced its investment in a new major horticulture projectto lift the productivity of Māori-owned land in Hawke’s Bay.

Agriculture minister Damien O’Connor said the NZ$440,000 (US$293,000) will enable landowners to get on-the-ground support to identify suitable parcels of land to be sustainably developed into horticulture.

“The government is investing $440,000 to help members of the Wairoa Horticultural Hub build on the potential of their whenuaand tocreate jobs,” O’Connor said.

“The hub is made up ofrepresentatives from more than 20 blocks of land covering 460ha, with the majority being Māori-owned.

“It’s part of a long-term vision to harness the full benefits of the Wairoa district’s soils, water and climate. It has the capacity to become a premier horticulture region.”

The investment is part of the government’s‘Fit for a Better World’roadmap, which aims for food and fibre sector exports to earn an extra NZ$44bn over ten years.

A key driver for the Wairoa project is to convert enough land to justify the establishment of post-harvest cool store and processing facilities.

“This will not only provide much-needed employment opportunities, but also increase social and economic outcomes for the whole Wairoa district. The wider project has been supported bygovernment investment of NZ$875,000 through a Provincial Growth Fund grant and NZ$1.4m loan,” said O’Connor.

“That funding has been crucial to establishing the region’s potential to produce high value apple varieties. The funding has helped prepare the site, establish infrastructure, and plant apple trees on the 18ha site.

Poles have been erected to help train tree branches and to attach irrigation lines and hail netting. It’s anticipated the trees will start producing fruit within three years and reach full production in five to seven years.”